Where will the final be?
This is the (multi) million-dollar question. World Rugby rules state a venue must hold 60,000 fans to host a World Cup final. Under those requirements, only three venues in Australia qualify: Accor Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Optus Stadium in Perth. Sydney is the frontrunner to host its second Rugby World Cup final – having done so in 2003 – but Melbourne is pushing hard to have Australian rugby’s biggest match in decades.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula spoke on Thursday about the possibility of a MCG final.
“We believe the Melbourne Cricket Ground would be an ideal place for the Rugby World Cup final to be played and we’ve strongly advocated that in our discussions with Rugby Australia and the Rugby World Cup,” he said.
Perth’s time zone is favourable for European audiences, so that could work to their advantage.
Has Australia hosted a World Cup before?
Yes, in 1987 (joint hosts with New Zealand) and 2003. New Zealand defeated France 29-9 in the inaugural Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park in Auckland. Meanwhile, the 2003 World Cup was hugely successful, with the then-Australian Rugby Union making a $45 million profit.
Wallabies fans will remember Stirling Mortlock’s famous intercept try in Australia’s 22-10 semi-final win over the All Blacks before England No.10 Jonny Wilkinson broke Australian hearts with a drop-goal – off his non-preferred foot – to seal a 20-17 victory in extra-time. George Gregan was Australia’s captain in that match and Eddie Jones was the coach.
What was the last World Cup like?
The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan was the last major tournament before COVID-19 changed the world. The event was a huge success, despite a typhoon causing the postponement of a handful of matches. Hosts Japan made it through to the quarter-finals, which further boosted the profile of the code in a non-rugby market. Australia were bundled out in the quarter-finals by an England side who eventually lost to South Africa in the final 32-12. Hundreds of thousands of rugby supporters packed out Japanese stadiums, with 99 per cent of tickets being sold. It was a hugely profitable event.
Is the Rugby World Cup a big deal?
You bet. Rugby Australia predicts there will be more than two million attendees and approximately 217,000 international visitors across the 2027 and 2029 men’s and women’s World Cups. The governing body estimates the events will deliver a combined $2.8 billion in direct and indirect expenditure and create 14,000 jobs. Four billion people are expected to watch the tournament, while 10,000 volunteers will help make the event run smoothly.
For context, approximately 857 million people tuned into the 2019 World Cup, an increase of 26 per cent from the previous event in England in 2015.
When did the idea first start?
Australia’s dream of hosting the 2027 Rugby World Cup began at London’s Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington in 2017. You can read more about that here, but in short, South Africa was expected to be given hosting rights to the 2023 edition.
The logic was that a southern hemisphere country wouldn’t get another chance until 2039, but when France swooped and claimed an unlikely victory, Australian officials thought 2027 would be theirs for the taking. The truth is outgoing ARU chief executive Bill Pulver and deputy chairman Brett Robinson got the ball rolling but it was RA chairman Hamish McLennan who got the deal done.
Were there any rival bidders this time?
Yes, but no real major threats to Australia’s bid. The USA signalled their intent to bid for 2027 but were well behind Australia in the planning stage. Their financial stability was also a concern for World Rugby, who felt that they would be better suited to 2031. Australia led the race early and never looked back.
What will it mean for the game here?
Rugby has had a difficult few years, on and off the field, but a World Cup on home soil means the game can pin its hopes on nailing the third biggest sporting event in the world. Rugby is still in rugby league’s shadows – at least in Sydney – but when teams from all over the world converge to play matches across most major capital cities and territories, it will be an event that league officials could only dream of.
The landscape, however, has changed considerably since the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Fans have left in droves but with a home 2025 British and Irish Lions series on the horizon, those at RA know how critical it is to get rugby back on the map in the next five years.
Who are the favourites to win it?
There’s still a World Cup to go in France next year but it’ll be hard to go past the All Blacks, as is the case at every World Cup. However, France have a core group of excellent young players who are expected to shine on home soil. South Africa are the reigning world champions but lost four of their last seven matches in 2021, including back-to-back defeats by the Wallabies. Australia will almost certainly have a new captain and coach by that stage. It’s hard to predict what kind of side they will have. Australia will be competitive though, with Angus Bell, Tate McDermott, Izaia Perese, Jordan Petaia and Noah Lolesio poised to be involved, plus a number of other youngsters yet to prove themselves on the big stage.
Watch every match of the Super Rugby Pacific on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Continues this weekend with Brumbies v Crusaders (Friday 7:15pm AEST), Blues v Reds (Saturday 4:30pm AEST) and Waratahs v Hurricanes (Saturday 7:15pm AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport.
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